CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Ito ruling on 'n-word' seen as setback for defense as Tourtelot cuts Fuhrman loose

August 31, 1995 -- 8:15 p.m.

From Correspondent Anne McDermott

[Fuhrman] LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Judge Lance Ito ruled on Thursday that only two references to the word "nigger" would be played to the jury in the O.J. Simpson trial. The racist slur was used 41 times by key prosecution witness and retired police Detective Mark Fuhrman.

The judge, in what was seen as a major blow to the Simpson defense team, also ruled the jury would not hear any of the 18 excerpts from the tapes in which Fuhrman talked about planting evidence, beating suspects and committing perjury.

As Judge Lance Ito was making his decisions regarding the tapes, reaction to the tapes has caused quite a rumble.

It's not clear yet whether the incendiary words of Mark Fuhrman will blow the trial of O.J. Simpson wide open but it has already angered the community in Los Angeles. And it has cost the former detective an attorney.

[Tourtelot] Robert Tourtelot had been representing Fuhrman on civil matters for the last year but cut him loose Wednesday for what he called personal and obvious reasons. "I was profoundly disgusted and horrified by the contents of Mr. Fuhrman's taped conversations, as I listened along with the rest of the World last Tuesday," Tourtelot says.

Simpson attorney Barry Scheck says that it's no real surprise. "I'm sure he's not the first attorney that's had a client lie to him." But Tourtelot's statement also said: "Mark Fuhrman did not plant any evidence as alleged in this case by the defense."

Meanwhile, the ACLU is going after the Fuhrman tapes. They want them made public and so do a lot of citizens. "It should be exposed," one woman says. "There's a problem with the LAPD, it's not just with Mark Furhman." Another says, "It think he's one of many." And yet another opinion reinforces the last, "Personally, I think it's been going on for a while and it's not gonna change."

[Williams] Police Chief Willie Williams thinks things can change and are changing. He spoke about that at a graduation ceremony for new Los Angeles police officers. The chief does have some support. "I do have a lot of friends that are police officers and have always had good relations with them, and other officers have told me they repudiate his (Fuhrman's) remarks as well," a man says.

But many are left wondering about Mark Fuhrman. A spokesman for the ACLU calls Fuhrman an equal opportunity bigot. Douglas Mirell says, "It's very difficult to get inside the brain of Mark Fuhrman, and I don't pretend to be able to do that."

[Councilman] A Los Angeles city councilman thinks he knows what should be done. "In my view, Mark Fuhrman types (are) like a Nazi, if you were in the German army during the war, he would have been tried at Nuremberg and he should be tried here," says Councilman Nate Holden. (92k aiff sound file)

A lot of people want to hear from Mark Fuhrman and the defense plans to call him to the witness stand if any of the tapes are admitted. Whether Fuhrman will provide any answers or, instead, take the Fifth, at this point is by no means clear.

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